Archive for the ‘life’ Category

i love teaching high school actors.

together, they are a group of inherently cool people.  and in every group of students there is at least one, often two or three, of the following:

– the chic i wish was my friend

– the dorky boy who will grow up to change the world

– the political activist who has done more in 15 years than i have in 30

– the forgotten child who fell into acting by chance and it has changed her world

– the one i want to party with

– the gay boy who doesn’t know it yet, or does but doesn’t announce it

– the gay boy who boldly announces it

– the movie starlet

– the shy one with a big soul and a louder voice (when she or he finally uses it)

– the one who gives me hugs

– the one who writes me such a beautiful thank you card that it makes me cry

– the unexpected jock

– the one who gets the least attention because she works the hardest and goes so far and needs only the smallest of nudges from me.  and, in the end, she reveals herself to have talent far beyond what i expected.

– the one i cannot budge.  he is seemingly talentless.  until, one day, something miraculous happens.  i never know what it is.  but it happens.  and then he is a changed child.  perhaps he is even a changed man.  and i wonder if i made a difference in his world, or if he did it all on his own after all.

they all make my heart soar.

due to creations like facebook, i get to see many of their shiny faces pretty much every day.  i respect the boundaries of children and adults.  i rarely look at their ‘party’ photos.  it’s none of my business.  but i love seeing them fly.

and, sometimes, i’m blessed with things like seeing two of them seriously lip-sync to the most absurd video ever.

this one.

it was pure silly high school.  and i told them so.  i told them i missed high school.

they responded by posting a video to my wall that made me laugh so hard that i cried.  four of them stared into the camera at me while the aural melodrama of Electra played in the background: screams of horror and mourning co-mingled with these very serious young faces trying very hard not to laugh at the silliness of their own ingenuity.

and it reminded me that my life is more than just feeling ill and learning to love my child.  my life is full of all these young souls that i love to work with.

all of these young souls blossoming with art.

all of these young souls with the minds and bodies of grown-ups but with a toddler’s ability to create and enjoy the most ridiculous pieces of art.  and life.

this is to you, kids.

thanks for being in my life.

may your years continue to delight you.


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Dream Lost

I used to be an actress.

A very talented actress.

I got cast in good roles; I got good reviews.

I was young and excited and brave and going places.

But I was unhappy.  I dreaded rehearsals.  I dragged my feet to shows.

Once on stage, I was perfectly fine–indeed, I was glory incarnate.  But, getting there, that was another story.

So, slowly but surely, I left acting behind.  I focused on teaching, on administration, on directing, on producing.  But I still find myself missing being an actress.  I find myself missing what I could have been.

I stare at bios, pictures, and websites of the women and men I know who have continued to live their bohemian actor lives and a knot rises in my chest.

I wish I was that.  I wish I could have been that simply because I was good at it.  I could have been something.  Actually, I was something.  I was talented.  Now, the thought of auditioning leaves me shaking in my boots.

In the darkest, smallest room in my heart, there is a promise to myself that I will act full-time again, when I’m fifty.  I will retire early and go back to the theatre.  And then I will play the great roles.  But, for now, it is a dream lost to life, time, circumstances, and choices.

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I am thankful for friends who can hide their displeasure, disgust, revulsion and horror behind masks of concern, calm, and gentleness…

We sat in the dining room enjoying ourselves.  Half way through the grand repast.

She trundled back in from the living room and announced, “Mama, Avi has poop on her leg.”  I figured she’d spring a little leak so I leaned around the table for a closer look.  This wasn’t a little leak, this was Niagara falls, sludge-colored and smelling of bile, gushing down my child’s leg.

I had to make her stay exactly where she stood while I first cleaned up her trail.  Then I air-lifted her into the bathroom for a diaper overhaul.

I had three lovely grown-ups making “aw” sounds, fetching towels and sprays, telling me not to worry, and offering me ginger ale when I emerged, green around the gills.

It was truly revolting.  These are the times when I regret using cloth diapers.

And you thought I was done with the poo tales.

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Visions of carrying my poop, hidden away in a brown paper bag, into my doctor’s office swam through my head.  Like bringing the kitty poop in each year.

It’s not like that.  Not at all.

I had hoped to do the poop scoopin’ without my toddler around.  I’m an open-minded gal; we talk about all sorts of things.  But I really did not want to have to explain to her why mama was mailing her poop.  Her current trend of reenacting all the events of her life ad infinitum does not lend itself well to the embarrassing possibilities.

But(t), well, to put it bluntly, one poops when one poops.

So yesterday afternoon, with plastic gloves on, the smell of formaldehyde in the air mixed with the stench of yuck, and a little plastic basin balanced precariously on the corner of the bathroom sink, I scooped and mixed and shook while my daughter looked on curiously.

The conversation went something like this:

Mama: “Remember this morning at the hospital?  When the nurse took some blood tests of mama?  It’s to make sure mama is healthy.  Well, the doctor will check my poop too.  So I’m sending him some poop to test.”

Avi:  (Thinking hard.  Wrinkling her nose curiously.  Thinking hard some more.) “You’re cute, mama.”

Nothing like a toddler to make you feel better about scooping your own poop.

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On the way to the concert last Sunday night, my girlfriend Annie put her newly burned cd in to my car stereo and played me this song.  I loved it right away.

But it was only when I heard it in person that I started to cry.  Ani sings with her entire body.  The energy of music pumps from her soul and soars through the air, pulsing with fierceness.

I wanted her concert to go on forever.

Present/Infant ~ Ani DiFranco

lately I’ve been glaring into mirrors, picking myself apart
you’d think at my age I’d have thought of something better to do
than make insecurity into a full time job
make insecurity into an art
yes and I fear my life will be over
and I will have never lived it unfettered
always glaring into mirrors, mad I don’t look better

but now here is this tiny baby
and they say she looks just like me
and she is smiling at me
with that present infant glee
and I would defend to the ends of the earth
her perfect right to be

so I’m beginning to see some problems
with the ongoing work of my mind
and I’ve got myself a new mantra
it says “don’t forget to have a good time”
don’t let the sellers of stuff
power enough to rob you of your grace

love is all over the place
there’s nothing wrong with your face

love is all over the place
there’s nothing wrong with your face

I have made a promise to myself that I will go and see her live at least once a year, if not more.

And I will dance again.

I will find a room, I will put in a cd of any sort I feel, and I will dance until I fall down exhausted.  I will use my limbs, my spine, my toes, my hair.

I will bring rhythm into my heart and use it with glee.

My breath will be unthinking.

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Today is my thirtieth birthday.

It started with a successful visit to a new GI specialist to talk about the ol’ tum-tum.  It means that next week I’ll be having gallons of blood drawn, including some that will be mailed long-distance with an ice pack to somewhere in the middle of the country.  I’ll also be pooping in a bucket and scooping out little chunks to stick in many multi-colored tubes, also to be mailed to somewhere in the middle of the country.

It was a good start to my day.  No sarcasm here.  He took me seriously.  He agreed that I’m “managing my symptoms” but now we need to find the cause.  And my heart rejoiced.  Because why else have I been visiting all these doctors?  To find the cause.  It was a good start to my day.

The middle of my day culminated with my parents arrival with vegan cupcakes.  Yes, vegan cupcakes.  The most delicious chocolate confections that woman has ever known.  So satisfying.

It progressed to a round of Shrek III after a lovingly prepared meal of cheese enchiladas by my live-out hubby.

It was all good until I realized I’d over-indulged in the cheese.  So my tum-tum took its revenge for a while.

I’m all good now.

So let’s revisit this list I made sometime last year.  Let’s take a look at how realistic I thought it was at the time and how unrealistic it really was:

  1. find which grad program i would like to apply for…and in the process, figure out what subject i’d like to study. Okay, actually, I did manage to do this.  I haven’t actually applied, but technically that wasn’t part of the goal.  So….Me – 1, Reality – 0.
  2. pay off my car loan. Ha.  That is all I have to say about that.  Me – 1, Reality – 1.
  3. pay off my credit card. Technically, I did this about three times, possibly even more.  But since my car keeps loving me by breaking and I’m seeing a therapist who isn’t covered by insurance, I’m back up to about $4000.  Me – 1, Reality – 2.
  4. begin a college fund for A__. Well here’s one that made sense.  Okay then.  Me – 2, Reality – 2.
  5. buy a dresser. I guess I’m not doing so bad since I managed this one too.  Me – 3, Reality – 2.
  6. find a spiritual community. Hunh, well, I’m not sure what to do about this one since I crossed it off of my list when I realized it was a red herring.  I guess, though, since it was on the list to start out with, the point does not go to me after all.  drat.  Me – 3, Reality – 3.
  7. decide where i would like to live: here, a neighboring town, or an entirely new locale. You’d think this would be easy.  It’s not.  It’s so not.  Me – 3, Reality – 4.
  8. find a publisher for this book . Right.  Me – 3, Reality – 5.
  9. be able to run a mile. No comment.  Me – 3, Reality – 6.
  10. create the time in my life to do five minutes of yoga every morning. that’s not too much. i really think it can be done. and i really think my back will thank me for it. and maybe A__ will do it with me too which would make it that much more fun 🙂 I’m gonna give this one to me.  I don’t do yoga every day, but Avi and I go once a week and I go on my own once a week so I think I deserve something for that.  120 minutes of yoga, divided by 7 days actually ends up being more than five minutes a day anyways.  Me – 4, Reality – 6.

FINAL TALLY:  Me – 4, Reality – 6.

Actually, that’s better than I expected when I started this exercise.  To be honest, it wasn’t an entirely heart-felt exercise so I don’t really feel all that bad about any of it.  Except running a mile.  I really wanted to hit that one.  I think I’m up to a quarter of a mile.  Maybe by spring.

And this year?  Well, last year I wanted a Zen year, where nothing happened.  No major strife, changes, or life-upheavals.  I didn’t quite get it, so this year I’m really going for the Zen year.  As of this Saturday, I will have completed my last freelance project of the year.  And so for one full year it will be just me, my day job, my child, and the fun/meditation/therapy/cooking that will kick this stomach mayhem in the ass and let me live my life again.

And so ends this poorly constructed and down-right rambling birthday post.  Here’s to another year and many more to come.

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Like ADD and Colic, I think a lot of children get lumped into The Terrible Twos unfairly.  Sure, there are plenty of children who actually have ADD, colic, and completely unexplained tantrums.  But, for the most part, a lot of patience, research, communication, and coaching can go a long way and allow you to remove the negative label you’ve given him or her.

But then, a couple of weeks ago, Avi momentarily changed all that.

She entered The Terrible Twos.  And I labeled her with gusto.

She threw herself on the floor screaming for no reason.

She looked me in the eye, dropped food over the side of the table and then innocently asked, “Is Avi being naughty?”

She screamed inconsolably.

She pushed buttons I didn’t even know I had.

And one terrible and fateful lunch hour, I slapped her.  Yes, I slapped her.  Not hard enough to hurt; it didn’t leave a red mark, it didn’t make her cry.  But it did make her stop.  It wasn’t planned.  It wasn’t wanted by either of us.  But out it came.

I was heartbroken, ashamed and horrified.

I never knew I could feel so much anger at such a little person.  I never knew I could hit her.  I had become the parent I never wanted to be:  I threatened, I screamed, I fumed, I forcibly stuck her in chairs, I hauled her out of stores.  We were both miserable.

So I gave myself a time out.

Everyone I spoke to reassured me that “it happens.”  In fact, the first person I called was my girlfriend, L__, who had just admitted to hitting her son the previous week without really meaning to (he’s just about Avi’s age) so I knew she would get it.  My mom admitted to slapping me and also reminded me that my dad spanked me several times and I’m perfectly fine, and I don’t remember it.

I let them make me feel better, because I needed it.  But, the thing is, I don’t really believe that.  I don’t believe Avi cries for no reason.  She always has a reason, even if I think it’s silly.  I don’t believe she would push my buttons just to irritate me.  I don’t believe in only one-sided anger: it does, after all, take two to tango. I don’t believe that this hit will not affect her even if she doesn’t consciously remember it.

So I’ve started reading.  In fact, I stayed up reading far into the night because I found this book so helpful that I kept telling myself, “I need to read as much as possible right now so I can put this stuff into practice!”  Eventually, I did go to sleep.  But, even being tired today, Avi and I had the best day we’ve had in weeks.  Not a single tantrum.  Oh, there were disagreements and irritations.  But no anger.  No screaming.  And no hitting (by me, at least.  I can’t say the same for her…yet).

And, just so you know moms, the hardest part of all this?  Admitting to her dad what I’d done.

And admitting it to you.

I’ve committed myself to revealing, in this blog, all the bits and pieces of honest-to-goodness parenting that no one is willing to admit or talk about.  But this was by far the hardest thing to state publicly.  For those of you who do spank, maybe it’s not a big deal.  But it is to me. I will carry the shame of the betrayal of my daughter’s trust forever.

I may forgive myself, as she has already forgiven me.  But I will never believe that I made the right choice at the moment.

I made the wrong choice.

So now I’m trying to fix it.

And, in the process, I think I will discover what I have believed all along: that a lot of children get lumped into The Terrible Twos unfairly, including my own daughter.

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